Members of the National Union of Teachers have been battling in education to halt academisation, over testing and, more recently, against £3 billion in funding cuts up to 2020. We have always attempted to get parents’ groups on board to work jointly on campaigns.
In 2016 two new groups, Let Kids Be Kids and Rescue Our Schools, came to the fore during the fight against the education bill which sought to turn all schools into academies. Let Kids Be Kids focused on testing, in particular SATs, and helped organise events all over the country which saw parents take their children out of school in the week leading up to SATs.
Many of us who have been campaigning on testing for years saw a glimmer of hope that a renewed union campaign together with parents could lead to enough pressure to give head teachers the confidence to boycott what has become a rotten system. In the words of one head, “Testing is the monster and stopping year six SATs will be like cutting the head off the monster.”
As the head teachers’ union backed away from a boycott we were once again frustrated by the difficulties of its strategy.
In the meantime a group of parents in Hackney, London, called a meeting on funding cuts. It was huge and the Fair Funding movement blossomed from there on. Across the country hundreds of parents have lobbied, met and leafleted playgrounds as the scale of the school cuts has been revealed.
Now that the general election has been called, many are asking what politicians will do about the planned cuts.
We are halfway through a consultation on the new funding formula. It is to be hoped that every politician knocking on a door will be asked about school cuts. The lie that funding has not been cut is no longer credible.
And whatever the result of the election next month, parents, teachers and support staff will need to shout loud and be prepared to strike and demonstrate to protect our schools and the one chance all children get at education.